Get Baked In the kitchen

November big cook

This is actually only about the apple cake…

So Toby likes to cook – and often likes to make a big pot of something. And it’s been a while since we’ve had people over so I thought we’d have people over for a late thanksgiving feast. Except Indian foods. ‘Cause that’s something Toby is particularly good at. So I’m not sure why we tied it into thanksgiving – because even US thanksgiving is next weekend. Oh maybe that’s when we were going to do it but then some people couldn’t make that date…anyway. Back to the story. That isn’t actually about the big cook part.

Toby made 3 different meat curries: butter chicken, beef curry, and a meatball curry. And then three veg: my absolute favourite saag paneer, daal and a mushroom curry.

My iPhone skills are not nearly good enough to take pictures of curries that look good so you’ll just have to take my word for it (and our guests’ word for the mushroom curry being amazing; no way was I going to eat it!).

One friend brought samosas, another brought homemade naan (sooooo good). Indian sweets came with another friend and another brought a lemon panettone. And another brought a batch of home-made Manhattans *swoon*

So… what was I gonna do? Toby originally asked for pavlova (his favourite) and a chocolate layer cake. So that’s what I was going to do. Until a couple of days before the dinner when we pulled out this binder full of his mom’s recipes from a while ago. Some obviously from when he was a kid because they include such gems as (for a different recipe):

…I like to use apricot jam because it is not sweet, Toby likes raspberry jam because it is sweet.

At least he was a normal kid!

There are also a few curry recipes in there, including one I remember from the very first time I ate at the house in Ancaster: egg curry. Toby says it’s a very British thing.

Anyway, I was flipping through and asked about “apple cake.” Toby immediately went misty-eyed and asked that I make it instead of the chocolate cake. (Note that the pavlova was likely never in danger of being superseded).

So – it’s a lovely, super straightforward recipe. And I have my amazing mother-in-law’s permission to include it.

Too many apples; and also used cinnamon sugar from The Spice Trader from last year’s advent calendar.

Ingredients and instructions:

Butter (or otherwise grease well) a 9″ spring form pan.

Oven at 350*

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs

Cream the butter well. Then add sugar and eggs and mix until smooth.

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Add the flour and baking powder and mix again until smooth.

ORIGINAL NOTE: Pour mixture into pan, it is quite thick

MY NOTE: The batter will be really thick. Really. There is no pouring here. Scoop it out of the bowl and into the pan; make it even though don’t press down too much.

  • 3-4 large tart apples – peel, core, slice into eighths. Press into the dough round side up.

MY NOTE: The original says in a circular pattern so I started on the outside and then filled in the spaces with smaller pieces. I should have taken more pictures!

  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sugar

Mix and sprinkle over the apples

Bake for 1 hour

  • 3 oz butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs

Mix well together; pour over the cake and then bake at 325* for 1/2 hour more.

This is what it looked like out of the oven.

Toby got an advance taste:

You can kinda see the layer of the base then it gets a bit smooshed where the apple is and then the top bit

I was worried it was a bit dry. Because I followed the recipe to the letter. Which I actually do know I should NOT do for times etc because every oven is different and runs hotter or colder or whatever. So I worried. Because that is what I do.

I was thinking about what I could do and my brain immediately went to salted-caramel. Please tell me it’s not just me lol

And then of course, Joy of Cooking to the rescue and I attempted to make salted caramel sauce for the first time.

Joy of Cooking cover compilation from Joy of Cooking

The recipe itself was pretty simple and straightforward but I really think a lot of cookbooks would be a lot more helpful if they included a little more help along the lines of, for example here, “err on the side of pulling it off the heat a little early because once it’s too late, well, it’s just rubbish.”

It looks lovely – especially in my vintage glass jar. And it smelled divine. And tasted ever so slightly burnt. Sigh. But also 🙂

So a big lesson re-learned: Timing really is everything sometimes; the key is to know when it matters.

And also your friends will probably eat whatever you make because they know you did your best and even “slightly not exactly right” baked goods taste great when made at home with good intentions.

Diversions Get Baked

I remember red…

When I was younger no trip to, or through, London England was complete without a trip to Fortnum & Mason. There wasn’t a lot there we could afford I would imagine BUT they still, in the 1980s at least, sold red food colouring made from cochineal. And my mom loved it and prized it above all others. I wonder if they still make it?

from the fortnum & mason website

This all came back after I stumbled across this article from the BBC: The insect that painted Europe red. Yep, a cochineal is a bug and an acid in the female is used to make a dye. Originally it was used to colour fabrics, and then paints, and eventually a “natural” food colouring. Natural yes; but still a bug!